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October 23, 2004

Amman, Jordan

October 22, 2004


Marc sat in the lobby of Amman's Grand Hyatt hotel drinking coffee and discussing Iraq's elections, planned for sometime in January. A Canadian with wire glasses and a quiet, businesslike manner he wore a gray polo shirt with a blue UN logo stitched over the heart, a souvenir of an earlier assignment.

October 17, 2004


Jan Morris once wrote that there are only three true 'World' cities: New York, London and Paris. That is easy to remember as one passes through here. Last night in a bar off the Champs Elysees, I listened to a French acoustic duo mangle a generation's worth of American folk-rock. The music didn't much matter, though. The crowd was a pleasant mix of French, Americans, Germans and a bunch of Spanish-speakers who, from the snatches of conversation I overheard, appeared to be from Argentina. It was a good crowd for a Saturday night.

October 14, 2004

Los Angeles

If you are an American living overseas – particularly in the Middle East – coming back to the United States for a visit inevitably entails a single question, one you will encounter from seemingly every person you meet: Is it safe over there?

Do you feel secure?

Can you go out?

Aren’t you worried?

October 10, 2004

35,000 feet above the North Atlantic

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

A former western ambassador to the UAE, now retired and working here as a private citizen, told me a revealing story over lunch this week. A friend of his was coming through customs at Dubai and had purchased two bottles of wine in the arrivals duty free shop. As he approached customs a policeman stopped him.

"You have two bottles of wine?" the policeman asked. The traveler admitted he did, silently cursing himself for having picked up a second bottle with a policeman standing right in front of him.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

October 4, 2004

Dubai, United Arab Emirates



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